By William Watts and Steve Goldstein
U.S. stocks ended higher Thursday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 touched intraday records, as investors shrugged off a weaker-than-expected rise in second-quarter gross domestic product, focused on largely upbeat corporate earnings reports, and gave the trading debut of Robinhood Markets a tepid reception.
What are major indexes doing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.21% rose 153.60 points, or 0.4%, to close at 35,084.53, after hitting an intraday record of 35,171.52.
The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.11% was finished at 4,419.15, up 18.51 points, or 0.4%, after trading as high as 4,429.97.
The Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.82% advanced 15.68 points, or 0.1%, to end at 14,778.26.
On Wednesday, the Dow and the S&P 500 closed lower, while strong results from Google owner Alphabet Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -3.04% carried the Nasdaq Composite higher.
What’s driving the market?
U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annualized pace of 6.5% in the second quarter, falling short of the average forecast of 9.1% produced by a survey of economists by The Wall Street Journal. Separately, data from the Labor Department showed first-time applications for unemployment benefits fell 24,000 last week to 400,000.
“Today’s GDP report is a reminder that perspective is everything. Growth of 6.5% is robust by most measures, but against expectations for an advance of 8.5%, it’s still a disappointment,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.
The expansion was held down by a fall in government spending as federal stimulus payments declined in the second quarter, analysts noted. Meanwhile, consumer spending, the main engine of the economy, rocketed 11.8% higher in the spring, the GDP data showed. That’s four times faster than the typical increase each quarter.
“The return of household services consumption, from in-restaurant dining to recreation, was a force to be reckoned with in Q2, responsible for the lion’s share of economic gains for the quarter,” said Michael Reynolds, vice president of investment strategy at Glenmede, in emailed comments.
“For a sector that was decimated by a cliff of falling demand for much of the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see meaningful steps along the path of recovery from the services economy,” he said.
While it’s possible the second quarter could indeed mark “peak growth” in economic activity, it would not necessarily be a “market-shaping event” that investors should fear, Reynolds said.
“The reality is that ‘peak growth’ is a classic early cycle occurrence, typically marking the beginning of a developing and durable economic cycle, as growth settles in at lower (but more sustainable) levels,” he said.
Robinhood Markets /zigman2/quotes/228268942/composite HOOD -4.09% made its long-awaited debut after pricing its initial public offering at the low end of expectations. Robinhood opened at $38 a share shortly after midday, then lost ground on Nasdaq, marking a lukewarm welcome as shares closed down 8.4%.
Meanwhile, pending home sales fell 1.9% in June , the National Association for Realtors said Thursday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had projected a 0.5% gain.